A Garden Trip to Nova Scotia

I asked my son Gavin if there was some place he would like to go on a family trip. He immediately responded “Scotland!” Although he was in his early twenties, Gavin had never been on a plane. I wondered if a 7 hour overseas flight might be too much for a new air traveler?

We decided on a visit to Nova Scotia (which means “new Scotland”) instead. It is only a 3-hour flight and although some of us had visited the west coast of Canada before, no one in our family had been to the Maritimes. Other benefits of staying in Canada included avoiding international exchange rates and renting a car that my husband could drive on the right-hand side of the road.

We spent the first few days in Halifax starting with a visit to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic where we enjoyed hearing about naval history from a veteran and seeing maritime artifacts. I opted for a self-guided tour of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and was delighted to see the cottage and work of folk painter, Maud Lewis. Gavin and his sister Tara visited The Canadian Museum of Immigration Pier 21, the debarkation place for many new Canadians who arrived on ships. We later learned that it is likely that some members of our family arrived there.

We visited The Citadel Historic Site at the highest point in Halifax before heading out along the Lighthouse Trail to see Peggy’s Cove. We couldn’t get close to Peggy’s Cove as it was overrun by tourists and tour buses. I would likely avoid this area in future unless traveling off season. There are many other nice areas on the island to view the ocean. We did get a distance view from the Swiss Air Memorial down the road. Though a sad reminder of an air tragedy, it was a good reminder of the kindness of Maritime Canadians in times of difficulty.

We spent the next few days in Bridgewater. From there we explored Lunenburg and The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. It was also Gavin’s first time seeing an ocean. It was misty and cool when we dipped our toes in the ocean at a South Shore beach at Rissers Beach. Day use of all Provincial Parks is free.

We decided that our next stop should be the Bay of Fundy, one of the seven wonders of North America and the location of the highest tides in the world. I gave the kids choices of places to visit. To my surprise they decided on Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens as one of the stops.

The award-winning Historic Gardens, open from mid-May to mid-October, were lovely in August. We especially enjoyed the Victorian garden, the ponds, the rose garden and the recreation of an Acadian cottage. It took about 45 minutes to walk through the gardens. Staff were very kind and had great suggestions regarding which gardens were at their best. Here is a five-minute video introduction to this beautiful site.

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, 2014

I loved the many varieties of heather. I was also intrigued by Shauna MacLeod’s ceramic birds crafted from Nova Scotia clay. The birds were strategically placed throughout the garden and smaller versions were available for purchase from the gift store. The marriage of art and nature simultaneously enhanced both the ceramics and the natural space.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that younger people are taking more of an interest in gardens. They are much more environmentally aware than many in my generation.

Our first trip to the east coast of Canada was wonderful. Hopefully Gavin’s work schedule will allow a visit to Scotland in the not-too-distant future. I am sure we’ll find interesting historic sites, wonderful gardens and fantastic birds there too. In the meantime, Nova Scotia was a beautiful place to enjoy.

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